What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 361

What do I want for Christmas?

I want all my family, friends, neighbors, and enemies to be at peace with God, one another, and themselves in the New Year of 2016.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

‘Black Hawk Down’ hero found a better way to transform the world than ‘kicking in doors and slinging lead’ with enemies

Mustard Seed Budget

MAJ-Ret-Jeff-StrueckerWhat impacted Jeff Struecker most was NOT the thousands of hostile Somalis swarming his Humvee, nor the hailstorm of bullets and RPGs as he attempted to rescue fellow Rangers in the ill-fated 1993 raid of Mogadishu made famous by the movie Black Hawk Down.

What impacted him most was the next October morning back at base when his buddies one by one asked him about death and afterlife.

“It changed my life forever,” Struecker said. “I would still be a sergeant in the ranger regiment today if it wasn’t for what I saw the morning after the firefight. It wasn’t really the blood and the bullet holes that had an impact on me. It was back at the base the grown men, some of the toughest warriors on the planet, with tears in their eyes. They said, ‘Jeff, what happened to my best friend who just died last night?…

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What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 362

What do I want for Christmas?

For the Christians of the United States of America to know, understand, to see, and recognize the judgment of God when His judgment is here and present with us.

Part of our getting right and being right with Him is recognizing His judgment, and  falling on our knees in repentance, and asking His forgiveness.

“Hear the word of the LORD, You children of Israel, For the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (NKJV)

 

 

Why Christmas; After Christmas?

It seems every December people start talking about Christmas, and the “Christmas spirit”.  My thoughts this Christmas season was this,

If I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and wear the name “Christian”, then shouldn’t I [we] be living with that ‘Christmas spirit’ every day?

So I determined to see what the mind and heart of Christ would be for each day from the first day following Christmas 2015 until Christmas 2016 (providing the Lord wills that I live that long, or the rapture does not occur).

I pray they will lead me to follow Jesus even more faithfully in the year ahead.  I also pray that for you and all who may read these pieces.

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 363

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the sins of every charlatan Christian leader (especially in the U. S. of A.) to be exposed; their false teachings to be exposed, and the rebellious hearts of all who profess Jesus Christ to be exposed; that God may show Himself strong among those who love Him.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NKJV)

Since it is the ministry of every Christian pastor to preach the whole counsel of God’s word; to make God feel good; not themselves, and not any individual but the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Psalm 119:126.

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 364

“Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

What do I want for Christmas?

In the coming year I want to see many who are the enemy of God [Jehovah]; those who refuse the gift of God in His Son Jesus Christ; to have their eyes opened to the truth of who Jesus is; and that they will fall on their knees in repentance believing Him, trusting all that the Word of God says of Him, that He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and that He rose from the dead, for our eternal salvation.

What Do I Want for Christmas? Day 365

As I said on the previous post on this matter; this may be tedious, but I will do my best to keep it to the point.

What do I want for Christmas?  I want my life to be full of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; which is the Holy Spirit; so that others may see Him in me, and desire to know Him.

I am basing these wants on Scripture such as Psalm 37:4; Mark 11:24; and John 15:7

Christian Persecution

There are a few people I know who have jail, and prison ministries. They do it because they believe God has called them to go to the places where men and women are incarcerated for crimes against God and humanity. Yet, these minister to the men and women who are willing to listen to the message of Christ; the hope for all mankind; even the murderers and rapist and child molesters.

The event from Acts which we read today is not of criminals who have violated God’s laws, but violators of men’s laws which are against God. The apostles had preached when they were ordered not to preach in that name of “Jesus”; yet, they did. Hear what they said:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32 (KJV)

This takes place following their arrest, and imprisonment. An “Angel of the Lord” has come to them in the “common prison” and opened the doors, and sent them to preach in the temple. They went, and that is where they are found the next morning. Doing as they had been told by God.

When men’s laws are against God’s law, then Christian men and women are to continue their practices of being Christian; obeying God’s Word, His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments. I do not think we Christians should be surprised by persecution in a dark world. We ought rather, be surprised that we are not; because the apostle Paul has written, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). Now, I do not want to be persecuted, but really, if I am not; am I really living a godly life? The apostles were.

As Peter stated above; “We ought to obey God rather than men”. That begins through our faith; trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; obeying Him in our lives; being His witness.

One thing this passage of Scripture teaches is that the freedom of speech is from God, not men; therefore men cannot take it away. Let our speech be always with words that glorify our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Three Hundred Sixty Six Days til Christmas

On the first day of December of 2015 as I was writing in my journal I had a thought of counting down the 25 days til Christmas with the question “What do I want for Christmas?”

The first day the “want” was, “A fuller heart and life for my Lord and Savior.” In those 25 days I have thought of counting down until next Christmas with the same heart and mind; which I believe is the wants God gives me.

This may get tedious, draggy, and maybe some would say “Boring”; I do not believe in boring.  I never use the word in my vocabulary, except as here, to rage against it.

This being day 366 before Christmas;  What do I want for Christmas?  I want the Spirit of God who has created all things to reach into the hearts and minds of all who come here, convict of sin the hearts of those who do not know Him and draw them to Himself for salvation.

The Scriptures I have posted here tell you how.

The Greatest Need the World Has; that You Have Today

There is nothing new about evil. It has been in the world from the beginning of Creation. Since Adam and Eve fell in the garden of Eden there has been evil in the hearts of humankind.

We are a fallen race. We are born into the world separated from God; and our hearts are evil. The words of the prophet Jeremiah; “The heart is deceitful abouve all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The words of the apostle Paul, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But God has intervened, and sent us His Son.

The apostle Paul speaking to Jews in a synagogue said,

“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:47-49 (KJV)

The Lord Jesus Christ was meant to be a light to the Gentiles; all the rest of the world; as well as to the Jewish people. The Gentiles of Paul’s day rejoiced in that.

O, people, the world needs Him today. We do not need our own conception of Him; we need the Biblical Jesus. The One who came to die for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of the grave alive.

We Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God, God the Living Son. You need Him today if you have not fallen on your knees and face before Him. Believe Him today.

This Man will Receive You

One of the things that causes jealousy in the hearts and minds of men and women is when someone else gets more notice, and attention than we do.

This jealousy is quite evident among the religious leaders of Jesus’s time on earth with us; walking, talking, teaching, living for the Father, and His glory. The way He lived, the words He spoke, the kindness in His voice to the weak, the lame, the sick, the poor, and the outcasts was what drew these people to Him.

Luke the Historian of the life of Christ writes:

“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:1-2 (KJV)

Why do the religious always want to seek after those who have? Why do those, even, who profess themselves to be Christian go after the same? Jesus had no ill motive of seeking what the wealthy, religious leaders had to offer. He came to save souls (Luke 19:10).

The publicans were the most hated of people. They were the tax collectors of the day. Hebrew people who were collecting money from their own to give to the Roman government; therefore very despised, and hated; yet, Jesus would sit with them speak with them, and treat them with dignity and respect.

As Christians in the world of 2015 we must be as Jesus and treat all people; no matter their race, their economic level; their political affiliation; their illnesses; or transgressions; must treat them with the love and respect that Jesus would. Yes! That would include the muslim religion, and any other religious sect.

In loving them; we still confront sin; and its crippling, killing affects on those who are enslaved by it.

Draw near to Christ today. He loves you so much that He died on the cross for you, was buried, and rose again.

Amazed by the Power of God

We ought always be amazed by the power of God. We ought always realize that God is working, moving, accomplishing His purposes in the world around us and in our own lives.

Previous to the verses we look at today Jesus had been on the Mount called “Transfiguration”, and He was speaking with Moses and Elijah. A wonderful experience for Peter, James and John, and where they heard the Father say, “This is My Beloved Son: hear Him”.

Coming down from the mountain they encounter a man who has a son possessed of a demon, and is tormented by the evil one; tearing, tossing, torturing him with great pain, and grief to the father of the son. The other nine disciples have been powerless to cast out the demon. Jesus has come and speaks to the “unclean spirit”, and the demon leaves, the son is healed, and is delivered to his father (Luke 9:28-42)

Jesus knew the time of His death was near. He had spoken to the disciples of His death on previous occasions, but they did not yet understand.

“And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.” Luke 9:43-45 (KJV)

In verses 51 and 53 we can note that Jesus had His “face set to go to Jerusalem”, and that means all the way to the cross, and to death for our sins.

In the words of the text above Jesus wanted the disciples to know and to understand; but it just had not happened yet.

In the Gospel account of Matthew Peter attempts to rebuke Jesus after Jesus has spoken of His coming death (Matthew 16:21-23). A disciple rebuking his Master? I almost laugh at the thought; but Jesus rebukes Peter, and even tells Satan “Get behind me Satan”. For man, or the whole human race to think that they can thwart the power, plan, and purposes of God is even more laughable. See Psalm 2:4.

For the Christian today we can understand what has taken place; yet we must have the heart, mind and soul for hearing it, hiding His Word in our hearts, and obeying it. We can pray for understanding and wisdom in the Word; but if we never read it, and study it, there will not be any of wisdom or understanding. There will also be no growing faith in Him.

O Christian; hear Him. Do His word. Let these sayings sink down into your ears; and your heart. Jesus has been delivered into the hands of men. He died, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of that grave, and He ever lives.

Forgiveness and Loving Jesus

Do you love Jesus? How much do you love Jesus? Loving Jesus is a response to His love for us. He loves you. He loves me. He has proven that love by coming as a babe in a manger, living a life solely dedicated to the word, way, walk, and witness of His Father.

He proved His love for His Father and us all the way to the cross of death (Philippians 2:8). He suffered, He bled, He died for our sins. Who will love Him most?

When Jesus had gone home with a Pharisee named Simon; Simon had not been a bit hospitable to Jesus. He had failed to wash His feet; as was the custom of hospitality in that day; neither had he dried them. Then Simon; after a “sinful woman” came in and washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair; begins to accuse her, and Jesus.

That is when Jesus gives one of His short parables with a big heart:

“And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” Luke 7:40-53 (KJV)

This Pharisee saw himself as a righteous man, and this woman as a sinner; even accusing Jesus of not knowing about the woman.  The apostle Paul saw himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

The woman did not ask a thing of Jesus. She only sat at His feet washing them with her tears, and drying them with her hair; pouring out her love for her Saviour. She never condemned the Pharisee for his coldness. She only loved Jesus.

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” are the words from a precious “Children’s” Hymn. I am a child of faith. I know Jesus loves me; but I often ask myself, “How much do I love Jesus?” May we who are Christians show our love for Him through loving and doing His word, His will, and His way. Putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10ff), and putting off all that is wicked, vile and evil in the world.

Our Need to Pray

Prayer is something many people talk about. Prayer: just what is it? Is prayer not one speaking with God?

Can an unredeemed individual pray to a holy God; and get an answer? The Psalmist has written, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18).

How important is prayer? It was important to Jesus. It was His time with His Father, and provided solace, strength, and wisdom in decision making. When He was overwhelmed by masses of people; He would go away to pray (Luke 5:12-16). Hear what Luke says…

“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12 (KJV)

Let me just close by adding this comment. If Jesus the Son of God, God the Son needed to pray; so do I. I cannot live, breath or have any being without Him.

To whom do we pray? To the Father through the Son; because He made the way possible into the very throne of His grace; to find help in the time of need. (See Hebrews 4:16).

NOW, Let us go pray, and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Living / Walking in the Power of the Spirit

For the Christian to accomplish any thing for the glory of the Lord, and not for the glory, or boasting of one’s own self; and/or ego; it must be done by the Spirit of God in us.

It is GOD who gets things done. It is God who saves a soul. It is God who opens eyes to His revelation. It is God who gives understanding and wisdom in the ministry of His Word. How did Jesus live?

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” Luke 4:14-15 (KJV)

Following His baptism Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He then proceeded to go to the synagogues teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord; which by the way was the Old Testament. There was no New Testament written at that time. He taught them things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

In everything Jesus did or said; He did so by the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit of God. He did not move from one place to the other, except by the Spirit. He did not speak a word, except by the Spirit. He did not do any healing without the Spirit of God upon Him.

Hear what Paul the apostle says of the Spirit of God and the Christian,

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galations 5:16

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galations 5:25

This is living as Jesus lived. It is impossible without the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. Walk in the Spirit; and we will have the Power of the Spirit.

Waiting Patience

There is a lack of patience in me. There is a lack of patience in me toward other people at times; especially when I am driving down the highway; or in the city. I must often correct my mind and thinking as I am driving. Many times; probably all the time; that correction comes from God’s Spirit in me.

In the 49 plus years that I have been born again I can see that God has grown me, and improved my patience and understanding for others, and probably less for myself. Where am I going with the “Patience” thing? I am going to tell you about a man who had waited for many years for the coming of Messiah; the first coming.

It is written,

“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.” Luke 2:25-33 (KJV)

Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Christ [Messiah] of Israel, and Saviour of the world.

Now, here was a man who was patient; waiting for the coming of Christ. I am fairly certain he must have occasionally thought that it was not going to happen; but he keeps holding on to God’s promise.

You see faith is not the absence of doubt; it is believing in spite of the doubt. The enemy will continuously throw detours, roadblocks, and lies at you; but you just keep believing. You must keep believing and trusting God, and His Word. God has never failed, and He never will.

As Christians in 2015, and beyond, we believe that God has promised that His Son Jesus is returning soon; and Jesus has said Himself, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3); so either we patiently await His coming, or we quit believing, and in doing; and so we end up saying, that God is a liar. He is faithful, and will bring to pass every word He has spoken.

Let us patiently wait. Wait and occupy until He comes (Luke 19:13). He is coming. Get ready by calling on His name, believing that He died for your sins, was buried, and He bodily rose from the grave; and He is alive today.

In Order… That You Might Know the Certainty…

It is not a rare thing; but Doctors in successful practices do not often leave their work to enter something else; such as to be a writer; a historian, in this case. Some have and do. When one leaves their medical practice to be a minister of Jesus Christ and His gospel that is a calling on them.

Luke was such a man; such a doctor. Luke is the Bible’s only Gentile author. He is thorough in his writing and record. He records what is known to be true. His history recorded is of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ.

For a few days we will be looking at the historical account of Jesus Christ through the record of Luke. First let us hear what he says concerning his purpose for this record.

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” Luke 1:1-4 (KJV)

There were some writings that had came out that were absolutely false; and he set out to correct them with a true account. Let me assure you that he is not speaking of, or writing about the three other Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and John.

He was also set on the testimony of “eyewitnesses”, and he was very set on being truthful about the matter of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, and the returning King. To “Theophilus” he wanted him to know “the certainty of those things” – the truth of it all concerning Jesus’s life – His birth, His life, His ministry, miracles, power, and His death, burial and resurrection.

The book of Acts is also a historical book written by Doctor Luke, and he addresses Theophilus in that writing as well.

My friend; Jesus is the Christ; Son of God and God the Son. Be sure you know and trust Him today.

Son of Man in Power and Glory

Jesus on trial before a wicked, mob of Jewish priests, and haters of the Gospel of God stands with confidence in His Father and in the fulfillment of the promises, and prophecies of the Word of God.

As He is being questioned He stands boldly; not answering the questions which are baited to condemn Him, but speaking the truth when a question is asked about His identity:

“And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee? But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:60-62 (KJV)

“Son of the Blessed” is speaking of GOD, the Supreme authority of the Universe, and all created things.

Jesus’s words would not be fulfilled immediately. They will be fulfilled; and maybe nearer than many would want or like to think.

It was my sins and yours that He went to the cross to bear; and to suffer the wrath of Almighty God, and die that all who will believe in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

Son of David, Son of God, and God the Son

Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:11), The following verses answers who Jesus is for those who doubted who He was. If they would only believe the Scriptures.

“And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his Son? And the common people heard him gladly.” Mark 12:35-37 (KJV)

The Believer’s Bible Commentary gives a good answer for this question:

The scribes had always taught that the Messiah would be a lineal descendant of David. Though true, this was not the whole truth. So the Lord Jesus now posed a problem to those gathered around Him in the temple court. In Psalm 110:1, David spoke of the coming Messiah as his Lord. How could this be? How could the Messiah be David’s Son and his Lord at the same time? To us the answer is clear. The Messiah would be both Man and God. As David’s Son, He would be human. As David’s Lord, He would be divine.
The common people heard Him gladly. Apparently they were willing to accept the fact, even if they might not have understood it fully. But nothing is said of the Pharisees and scribes. Their silence is ominous.
FROM The Believer’s Bible Commentary for Mark 12:35-37.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus asked the disciples “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?”, and after they had answered what they were hearing others say; He asked them, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter was the only one who responded; “Thou are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16).

The matter of your salvation lies in your answer to that question: Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? Your answer must agree with God and His Word if you are to have eternal life.

The Kingdom of God and Children

Children are special. It does not matter if they are “special needs” children, or just as bright and healthy as one of us would like them to be. They are special, and need adult guidance, care, supervision, leadership, and discipline. All of those things.

One day when Jesus was with His disciples some children were brought to Him so that He would touch them, and bless them. The disciples began rebuking the adults who brought them, and we read the Biblical text…

“And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16 (KJV)

Jesus has also warned of “Offending” children (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:47), and these verses are also dealing with all who place their trust in Christ Jesus; adults as well as children.

Jesus’s point in the above verses is that those who come to Him must trust Him, even as a child is trusting of their earthly mother and father. When our children were young, even small; I had our youngest son jumping into my arms from the highest end of the front porch. He trusted me to catch him. Do you think I would ever pull my arms away, not catch him, and ruin that trust? No loving father would ever do that. Jesus “…took the children up in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them”.

God have mercy on any who would offend the children.

Trusting Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross is the only way into the kingdom; and we must trust that that is the only way. It is the way. He is the way, the truth and the Life (John 14:6). Trust Him.

Doctrines of Death

There are teachings of men and religions which are doctrines of death; not life. Teachings which bind in sin, and offers no freedom from sin, are doctrines of death.

Of course when we live in a society and culture of sin; who knows what is sin? Who knows what is right and/or wrong? According to our culture today the only thing wrong, is to say sin is wrong, if that sin is how they are living. In other words to call adultery a sin is a sin, because you have offended the sinner.

Jesus came to give life to those who were living death sentences. We are all living a death sentence until we come to Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus saw the teachings of the Pharisees, and of Herod as leaven. In Scripture “leaven” or yeast is a type of sin which permeates, and goes throughout the “bread” causing it to rise, or puff up. Hear the words of Jesus:

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15 (KJV)

Jesus addresses much of the leaven of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They were making people more disciples of hell than they themselves were with their teaching. Herod was a political leader; and of that we need to be aware as well. Jesus called him “That fox” (Luke 13:32).

Religion and politics mix well when they are corrupt. The religion of the day; in the day of Jesus and ours, and politics are deceptive, and corrupt. The religion that mixes well with politics is the religion that believes politics is the answer for mankind’s ills, and works to attain God’s favor.

There is life when one comes to Jesus believing Him, and turning from sin to life in Him.

The Children’s Crumbs Under the Table

There is a need for genuine faith. The faith that trust the Lord, and no one, or nothing else. The faith that a Christian has is not based on assumptions, or myth, but substance and evidence provided us by God Himself (Hebrews 11:1).

The verses we look at today tell us of a Gentile woman who trusted the Lord Jesus, for just the crumbs from the table:

“And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but He could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto Him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

There are some who think as they read the above verses that Jesus was being cruel. It certainly would not be politically correct in the U. S. of A. today. It is not cruelty; but a test to show that she truly has faith in Him, His word, and His mission.

First of all Jesus had came to the people, the nation of Israel. He in fact was Jewish Himself; was one of them. He was come to redeem the house of Israel. Did she know and understand that? Evidently so.

She was willing to believe the Lord, His word and work, and to receive only the “Crumbs” from the children’s table. You will notice that He spoke words of healing to her. The demon departed from her daughter, and there was a Gentile woman redeemed by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believe Him. Trust Him; and His Word today.

Offended by Jesus and His Teaching

In the United States of America people are easily offended. I will probably offend someone with this post today; but that is on your shoulders, not mine.

We have a Constitutional right of Free Speech. That right, however, does not mean that we can say hurtful, evil, things that will cause harm to others. It does mean that we have the right to speak what we believe to be the truth without fear of bad repercussion. If the truth offends someone else, then, they just need to deal with it.

Some who are offended easily by the Truth, turn to Jesus Christ as a picture of having never offended anyone. People who think that do not know Jesus Christ or anything about Him. For example:

“And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him. And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this Man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands! Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching.” Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

Jesus had gone into His own city where He was raised, and the people recognized Him as the Son of Mary with brothers and sisters; yet they were offended by His life, and His teaching – “They were offended at Him”.

If Jesus offends you; it is because you do not know Him. Are there other times when Jesus offended others? Think of the two times He drove the money changers from the temple (John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12-13). Do you think they were offended at Him? I would think so.

We as Christians should not seek to offend others; but if we live a life like Jesus lived; faithful to the Father, and our Saviour; then there will be people offended by our life, and walk, and our talk.

“I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ lives in me…” How about you?

The Tormented

There are many tormented people in the world today. Some seem to be intelligent individuals, educated, wealthy, or maybe middle class, or poor who are tormented by their lives, and living.

These folks do things that are beyond themselves, that cause harm to family, friends, neighbors; even to themselves that a otherwise sane individual would not do. We send them to doctors who specialize in this sort of thing, yet these people are still tormented.

Jesus dealt with these people, and spoke to them, and in our case today delivers this man from his torment:

“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.” Mark 1:23-27 (KJV)

This man was demon possessed. Controlled by another being. He needed peace, and only Jesus could give it. Tormented souls need Jesus the Christ to set them free, and give them peace. Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Are you a tormented soul? Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Call on His name, and He will save you.

Born in a Manger Meek and Mild, But not for Long

In Christian churches every Sunday the resurrection of Christ Jesus is mentioned, He is worshipped as the risen Saviour. We can say, and do say that we are His and He is ours. He is a glorious Saviour, Lord, risen Lord, and coming King.

There is an obscure set of verses in Matthew. The event; part of the events of the resurrection of Christ; is not mentioned by any of the other three Gospel writers.

There are some who do not believe in the resurrection period who classify it as myth, or merely allegory. However, if we call this merely “Allegory”, then we call Scripture a lie; and it is not.

Hear the writing of Matthew:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV)

At the death of Jesus (v. 50) the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that the way to the presence and throne of God was open for all who would come through the cross of Jesus, and there was an earthquake. Notice that the graves of saints; Old Testament believers; were opened, and after the resurrection of Jesus many of these saints arose, and came out of their graves and appeared to other people.

There is much mystery in these verses. These people are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. Let me give you a quote from the MacArthur Study Bible:

27:52 bodies of the saints…were raised. Matthew alone mentions this miracle. Nothing more is said about these people, which would be unlikely if they remained on earth for long. Evidently, these people were given glorified bodies; they appeared “to many” (v. 53), enough to establish the reality of the miracle; and then they no doubt ascended to glory– a kind of foretaste of 1 Thess. 4:16.”

These were part of the “First Fruits” of the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Revelation 20:5, 6).

There is life, and joy, and peace for all who will come by faith to the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour. He is coming again soon. When He comes again for His Church it will be in the air. It will not be secret; but only the redeemed of the Lord will be going with Him.

Betrayed? Continue On

Have you ever felt betrayed? It can be from a friend, family member, work place employee, or even a spouse. Betrayal is not pleasant to experience. Have you ever sensed that it was coming?

I am not talking about a paranoia; but rather a reasoning thought that someone is about to leave you with the cat in the bag. I cannot begin to imagine how being sinless, and the perfect Lamb of God, and knowing that there was one of my followers about to betray me; how that would feel.

Jesus had that happen. The verses for today tell of that; at least that it was near. We read,

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2 (KJV)

Jesus knew this was about to happen, yet, He goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, and He knows it will be His last.

When we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour it is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). When He lives in us we must die daily to the desires, lust, greed, and anger of the world (1 Corinthians 15:31).

When it comes down to it for the Christian – the follower of Christ – we like Him go on with our work, our ministry, our lives; trusting the Lord of all with what happens in our lives. The devil is the ultimate betrayer.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Feeling betrayed today? Remember Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God. He was betrayed and He went to the cross, bled and died for us.

“I Got You”

Nephos

Stories of the greatest courage often come out of the greatest tragedies. Such is the story of Shannon Johnson, one of the victims in the San Bernardino shooting last week.

As the Washington Post reports, Shannon was sitting at the table with co-worker Denise Peraza. Moments later the two of them were huddled under that same table hiding themselves from the attackers. The 45 year-old Georgia native used his body as shield to protect the 27 year-old Peraza.

She recalls, “While I cannot recall every single second that played out that morning, I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair. And amidst all the chaos, I’ll always remember him saying these three words, ‘I got you.'”

Shannon Johnson was one of the fourteen victims killed in the shooting, but because of his heroism, Denise Peraza survived…

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Shutting Up the Kingdom of Heaven

There is something about the gospel of Christ that the worldly man, even some of the spiritual elite who hate it. Some people want, desire people to follow them, their teachings, their philosophies, and when the true gospel of Christ Jesus is presented; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ they stand against it.

One of the Communist leaders of the past said, “Religion is an opiate of the people” or something very similar to that. Sad part about that statement is is that it is mostly a true statement. Religion blinds minds, cripples thinking, and makes captives of a people who ought to be free.

Something many people need to realize is that true Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ came into the world to free us from our sin, and its condemnation; our captivity to fear. There were those in the days of Jesus Christ who would not believe the message of Christ, because it freed the people from the binding message of their religion.

Jesus said,

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13 (KJV)

This is the beginning of seven woes announced, by Jesus, against the scribes who were teachers of the law, and the Pharisees who were a religious sect of the day. During the days of Jesus it would seem that their duty, and work was to keep people from the kingdom of God and heaven. In essence to keep their followers from following Jesus Christ.

These woes are announcements against them. They are working ruin. Religion for the most part is against Christ. Religion is the attempts of men, women, and children to try to gain God’s favor their own way; in their own personal labors. Faith in Christ Jesus is coming to God His Way trusting only in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is for the grace of God. Grace is shown to us through the cross of Jesus. God putting on His Son all the unrighteousness, all the filth of sin, and its condemnation; and pouring His wrath on His only begotten Son. Then, when you or I look to Jesus God places on us all the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Now, all those who receive this precious, eternal gift, have eternal life with Jesus forever. Do not let the teaching of men and religion that is false keep you from the kingdom. The kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself.

Scripture and Ever Present GOD

Some men have questioned Jesus on the teaching of the resurrection. These questions come from men who do not believe in the spiritual things. They do not believe in angels, or a resurrection; so Jesus knows that they are trying to deceive and trick Him into an answer that will trap Himself.

These were the Sadducees. A religious sect of the time which is believed to be made up of the Hebrew priesthood; and rejected many of the traditions of the elders, according to NELSON’S NEW ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY. They hated the Pharisees, and Jesus; yet both sects tried to trap Jesus, and eventually were together in His crucifixion.

Seven brothers for one bride (Matthew 22:23-28). A matter of Levirite marriage where if a man has a brother and he marrys a woman, and then he dies the next brother is to take his wife. The question is a ludicrous one; at least in my thinking. Hear the words of Jesus to them:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.” Matthew 22:29-33 (KJV)

They were in error because they did not know the Scriptures; yet they prided themselves in knowing Scripture. The problem was – they did not believe it.

Jesus confronted them of their ignorance, and unbelief. Really it comes down to the point of questioning, if they even believed in God. Jesus put the men in their proper place.

In the resurrection things will be different from earth. Jesus says that there will not be any marriage in the resurrection, nor will any be given in marriage, but we will be as the angels. For Jesus to say that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; is to show that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in fact still very much alive.

“I am the God of Abraham, … Isaac, … and Jacob” shows that God is a very present God. A “NOW” God. He did not say “I was…”. He did not say “I will be…” He said, “I am”.

Do you know Him through His Son Jesus Christ? Do you know Him NOW?

A Journey of Passion

This was Jesus’s final journey to the city on the hill. He would not make it again, and He knew it. Yet, He journeyed to the place where He would die.

Would you with joy, and passion go to the place you knew would mean your death? Of course you or I cannot know those things, as He did. We do need to know, though, that every day could be our last. None of us have any assurance of the next day.

Knowing His days on earth were few; Jesus traveled on teaching His disciples, and telling them what death He would die:

“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again.” Matthew 20:17-19 (KJV)

We read in other places that He had his mind set on going to Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21; Luke 13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:28). Some have called this journey “His Passion”, and I think that to be a good description of His heart and mind.

He came to live for the righteousness, and glory of the Father; and to die for the sins of mankind; to conquer death, sin, hell and the grave. That is what He means when He says, “And the third day He shall rise again”.

His journey in life was to glorify His Father, and to do so through obedience, even unto death. He died for you and me. He carried our sins, and its condemnations away in burial, and left them there; and rose bodily from the grave. He forever lives and saves all who will come to Him.

Our Need for Forgiveness, and to Forgive

The topic of forgiveness is an often neglected teaching; but much needed. It is also a matter of much discussion when it is brought up. Sadly, it can even generate heated discussions that lead to a need to forgive.

The matter of forgiveness is an easy subject to talk about, but sometimes hard to put into practice. Yet the Christian is not requested to forgive, but commanded to do so. We are told by Jesus that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15).

I must ask myself this question, If Jesus Christ can forgive me, then how can I not forgive others? I know that is a hard question, but it is mine; and I think an honest one. Peter the apostle even asked Jesus;

“Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 (KJV)

If someone keeps on offending you, causing harm to you, your mind, your heart, your family, your home, your car, your land, etc. Just how many times do we forgive them?

If we are sinners who hated God, His Word, His Son, the cross, and everything holy, righteous and just; before we came to Jesus; and He forgave me/us; and He continues to forgive everytime we sin against HIm; then why should we not also forgive those who sin against us?

There is a recent show of forgiveness among a group of church people. After a young man has come into their church on a Wednesday evening, and set with them through a Bible study when they go into prayer he began shooting, and killing them; nine in number. Their word toward the man following the incident were words of forgiveness. God bless them.

The next time you are offended, or injured by someone; forgive them.

How can one forgive such atrocities as mentioned above? Through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus forgave His tormentors, His killers, those who would be His enemies. He forgave me. I can forgive too.

Seeing, Hearing and Understanding

Seeing and hearing are an important part of human living and existence. Without seeing we could not see the beauties of the created order around us; neither could we see to navigate as we walk, ride or drive through a countryside.

Without hearing we could not hear the sounds of animals in the creation, neither the cries of our children as young babies crying out for care and nourishment; neither the voices of our spouses and friends, or other family members. We would not be able to hear the warning shouts of someone warning us of an upcoming danger.

These two senses are an important part of human life. They are also an important part of our spiritual existence. In the spiritual realm we can be very easily deceived, unless we have someone in whom we can trust and depend.

In Jesus’s days on earth He taught people, and called people to Himself; teaching them how to live in the Word of God, to do justly, to love mercy, and how to walk humbly with God. Yet, there were many who would not hear; nor would they see who He really is. Jesus says that this too is a fulfillment of prophecy:

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:14-16 (KJV)

Isaiah is the prophet whom Jesus quotes (Isaiah 6:9-10). The blindness and deafness of the religious leaders was fulfillment of that. It is a truth we cannot neglect to hear. When the truth of Scripture is rejected the truths of God will grow more and more dim; the hearing will fade away into oblivion and there will be no knowledge or understanding of God or His Word.

Those who know God through His Son Jesus Christ love the Word of God, and hide in the heart that we might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11), and make it a light for our path (Psalm 119:105).

The path to understanding God and His Word is through the cross of Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose from the grave. Believe Him, trust His Word. It is the way of life, and life everlasting.

Treasures of Your Heart

I heard a story of an old preacher who was in one of those cafe’s where you could come in and set at a bar near the kitchen, and order your meal; a hamburger, club sandwich, fries, or chicken fried steak, fried green tomatoes, etc.

Anyway this preacher had set down near a man who used the vilest, cruelest, nastiest language the preacher had ever heard. A waitress delivered the cursing man’s meal to him, and was about to take a bite when the preacher spoke to him, and said, “Are you going to eat with that same filthy mouth your talking with?”

There are times the vile filth that comes from people’s mouths is not even worth noticing; but the people are in grave need of God, and His salvation through Christ Jesus.

Jesus said of the mouth:

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37 (KJV)

Of course the people to whom Jesus was speaking were the religious leaders; and He was not speaking of cursing, and what we might call “filthy language”; but He was speaking of the hearts of men; of mankind. What comes out of your mouth reveals your heart.

Is that a troubling thought? It should cause some trouble in all our thoughts, and hearts. What kind of words do you speak? Do they lift up and edify others? Do they always, or many times tear others down?

Beware Christian. The words you and I speak do come from our heart. It is best if we think before we speak; and think from a heart that is clean and right with God. When we do that we will speak words that not only edify others, but will glorify our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Righteous Cannot be Saved

Many religions place importance on doing something to gain God’s favor. Let me at the beginning just say; there is nothing you or I can do to gain God’s favor. There is no sacrifice, there is no sacrament, there is no good deed to your neighbor or the world which will gain you or me eternal life and/or the favor of Holy God.

This very mentality is what Jesus is addressing in the following verses:

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:10-13 (KJV)

When Jesus was ministering to the publicans (tax collectors) and sinners the religious leaders began questioning Jesus’s purpose, power, and ministry. “What kind of man would sit with tax collectors and sinners?” they were asking themselves, and the disciples.

There is only one sacrifice which God the Father accepts; and that is the sacrifice, the death of His only begotten Son. Still the religious; the self-righteous try to gain the favor; the grace; of God through sacrifice and sacrament.

God shows grace and mercy to the sinner who will come to Him through the cross of His Son Jesus with a repentant heart. Through the act of repentance on the part of the sinner, trusting Christ Jesus, God clothes the sinner in the righteousness of God the Son.

You may be a righteous person today. You cannot be saved. Until you see yourself as the sinner your really are you will remain lost, condemned, dying, guilty, and spiritually dead.

Come to the Father through the cross of Jesus. Sinner hear Him and be saved. He came to save the sinner.

Giving, Praying, Going, Doing, and Saying

If you are born in a hospital, does not make you a doctor, nurse, or even a hospital bed. Neither, if you are born in a garage does that make you a car, truck or motorcycle. Those may seem to be somewhat pathetic thoughts, but the point will be made in a moment.

Hear the words of Jesus:

“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name have cast out devils and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)

There are many morally good people in the world who would give you the shirt off their back, and maybe even more than that. Being morally good does not mean they are good in the eyes of God.

Just as Jesus says in the above text; just saying His name does not mean one knows Him. I hear people using His name all the time; but let me tell you they do not know Him; not the way they use His precious name. Then, there are those who claim to know Him, but do not trust His finished work on the cross.

They continue to live doing things to gain God’s favor. They may attend every Church service. They may pray. They might even read a chapter a day from the Bible or read a daily devotional guide; all trying to gain favor with God. Yet, they do not know Him.

In the gospel of Luke Jesus says,

“And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46

What must one do to be a Christian; a true follower of Jesus Christ? Believe on the One whom the Father has sent (John 6:29). He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He is returning.  Will He find you faithful; or in the world culture?